Included in the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-08-12 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


In addition, the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 includes ADO.Net Data Services and ADO.Net Entity Framework, which raise the level of abstraction for database programming and supply both a new model-based paradigm and a rich, standards-based framework for creating data-oriented Web services. With this service pack, Visual Studio 2008 and the .Net Framework 3.5 also support SQL Server 2008.

"Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is more than a service pack. It is the ship vehicle for the Entity Framework as well as "Astoria" aka ADO.Net Data Services as well as Dynamic Data," said Stephen Forte, a developer focusing on the Microsoft platform. "So it is full of new features on top of any 'service pack' items we may care about."

For their part, to help medical staff reduce manual, paper-based processes, Misys Healthcare Systems and Veracity Solutions collaborated to create FreeNatal, a Web-based application that provides prenatal care providers with an easy-to-use, secure interface for managing patients' records. Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5 SP1, eight members from the Misys-Veracity team created the application. By taking advantage of these powerful technologies, the team increased development speed by 60 percent, enabling accelerated market delivery and further strengthening their respective positions in the health care informatics industry.

"It's a rare thing to have the right business opportunity at the right time with the right people," said Galen Earl Murdock, president and CEO of Veracity Solutions. "It's even [rarer] to have the right technology at the same time. Such was our experience with FreeNatal. ADO.Net Data Services and ADO.Net Entity Framework were precisely what the team needed to deliver a secure, robust back-end for this product. It's not often the planets align like that."

Murdock said he was initially skeptical about the Microsoft technology. "We knew that FreeNatal would be a rich, AJAX-based Web application. We also knew that we'd store the data in SQL Server," he said. "The question was how to connect the two-what to put in the middle. Entity Framework seemed like a no-brainer, but we were wary about the new technology on the block-ADO.Net Data Services. Imagine how pleased we were to have a technology completely measure up to our needs and expectations."

Meanwhile, Gregg Jensen, a senior software engineer at Veracity Solutions, said:

 

After many years of manually architecting my own data access layers, I can honestly say that Entity Framework was able to accomplish everything of the systems that I have built, and much more. In projects of the past I have spent many weeks both maintaining and updating data access layers, and it is great to see that Microsoft has build a data access layer that handles all of the setup and maintenance for you. I have been very impressed by the ease with which queries and updates can be performed using LINQ [Language Integrated Query] to Entities, and the flexibility of the underlying model. FreeNatal, as well as other new projects I have worked on, have benefited greatly from the time savings of using Entity Framework, as well as the maintainability.  Microsoft has truly taken out a major piece of any new project, the data access layer, and done all of the work for you.  

Moreover, regarding ADO.Net Data Services, Jensen said that in a world of growing interconnected services, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain compatibility from application to application. Yet, ADO.Net Data Services now gives developers the ability to develop reliable, secure and reusable services without needing to interact directly with each company that might use them, he said.

"On the FreeNatal project we were able to quickly add new features using JavaScript and HTML, with rarely needing to change the underlying ADO.NET Data Service that handled all of the data access," Jensen said.

In addition, the innovation behind the SQL-like URL query capability of Data Services is a technology that the internet has needed for a long time, Jensen said.

 

While ADO.Net Data Services comes with most of what you need right out of the box, it is also very customizable with the ability to add focused queries and updates using Service Operations. We have used Query and Change interceptors extensively on FreeNatal.  Throughout the application we were able to write simple URL queries, and allow Data Services to automatically filter the data retrieved by each user that should have access to it. We were able to use change interceptors to update interrelated fields such as an estimated date of delivery, and the gestational age of a fetus, which allowed us a simple abstraction of updating a single field and having the results cascade through the database.  

Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at Twentysix New York, said:

The reality is that ADO.Net is still very much alive and well and given EF's [Entity Framework] reliance on it, it's not likely to be going away. Conventional ADO.Net code will likely remain the most efficient way to perform data access. Even if Microsoft developers were to flock to ORM programming in droves, ADO.Net would likely remain in place and be at least the .Net data access analog to 'native code.'

Meanwhile, "Using the Entity Framework has significantly sped up our development cycle by removing a lot of the custom code we have to write," said David Copple, lead developer at The Test Factory. "The Entity Framework took away the tedium of having to write standard data access code and business objects, which gave our team a big productivity boost."

 



 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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